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Laurea Alumni of the Year

The Laurea Alumni of the Year Award is given each year to a former student of Laurea in recognition of outstanding achievements. The first award was presented in 2008 and the name of the recipient is announced at Laurea’s traditional Grand Alumni Evening.

The prize is awarded to Laurea graduates who have highlighted their training and background as Laurea students in a positive manner. A positive approach to developing work or the working community is also an important selection criterion.

The Laurea Alumni of the Year Award is called the Pentti Rauhala Prize, in honour of Pentti Rauhala who retired as President of Laurea in 2011.


Laurea Alumni of the Year 2008 - 2019​


Jussi Vyyryläinen

Jussi Vyyryläinen (2008)

Jussi Vyyryläinen, a graduate from the Degree Programme in Service Management who now works as the Leasing Director of Citycon Oyj, was Laurea’s first Alumni of the Year. He has helped to make the title of Bachelor of Hospitality Management and the Laurea University of Applied Sciences better known in the field of premises management.

In Jussi’s own view, the broad range of different subjects and the chance to learn by doing with the help of learning exercises were the best things about studying at Laurea. Studying at Laurea gave Jussi a broad range of competences in the service sector and helped him to understand how services can be developed.

Peter Kalanzi.

Peter Kalanzi (2009)

Peter Kalanzi, a graduate from the English-language Degree Programme in Business Management, was selected by Laurea as its Alumni of the Year in 2009. Peter works at Education Finder AB as education content developer and in managerial tasks in the vocational education centre of Uganda. Many education institutions have hosted him as a visiting lecturer and he has received positive feedback from the students. In Peter’s view, competent teachers and the practical approach to teaching were the best things about studying at Laurea.

Studying at Laurea made Peter more self-confident as a public speaker and group assignments and working in multicultural groups were particularly useful. He has also found these skills useful in working life. In Peter’s view, alumni activities are also important for Laurea graduates who live outside Finland.

Antti Seppinen.

Antti Seppinen (2010)

Antti Seppinen was selected as Laurea’s Alumni of the Year in 2010. Antti, a graduate from the English-language Degree Programme in Business Administration, now works in Danske Bank as Senior Account Manager. During his studies, Antti was an active member in Laurea’s student association and after graduation he has also held important positions in Laurea Alumni.

According to Antti, the best thing about Laurea was the international study atmosphere. During his studies, Antti also spent time in Japan as an exchange student. Studying at Laurea made Antti excellently prepared for working life and in fact he already found work in his own field before he had completed his studies. The range of courses offered at Laurea was also extensive.

Sara Asteljoki.

Sara Asteljoki (2011)

Sara Asteljoki was selected by Laurea as its Alumni of the Year in 2011. Sara graduated from Laurea as Master of Health Care and she now lives in Australia, writing her doctoral dissertation. She also works as a teacher and a consultant. Sara has held different positions in the health care sector, given lectures and worked as clinical instructor in companies.

In her view, international opportunities and networks as well as cooperation with student organisations were the best things about studying at Laurea. After receiving her Master’s degree, Sara was able to continue her studies abroad and new work opportunities also opened up. A Master’s degree from Laurea also allowed her to work as a teacher at universities of applied sciences.

Lauri Pipinen.

Lauri Pipinen (2012)

Lauri Pipinen was selected as Laurea’s Alumni of the Year in 2012. He studied in the Degree Programme in Hotel and Restaurant Management and now owns Good Life Coffee Oy, a well-known café in Helsinki. He is also a partner in Good Life Coffee Roasters Oy, a coffee roasting plant in Helsinki. Lauri’s thesis was in the form of a business plan and two years after his graduation he established a café of his own.

In Lauri’s view, the best thing about studying at Laurea was the fact that you could select project subjects according to your own interests. Lauri was not interested in hotel business but found work in restaurants and cafés more appealing. For this reason, in studies and projects he concentrated on the most useful subjects and subjects that interested him. Laurea also had excellent team spirit and everything was done in the right way. Lauri believes that with his Bachelor of Hospitality Management degree he is able to take a wider view of matters.

Jere Peltonen.

Jere Peltonen (2013)

Jere Peltonen was selected by Laurea as its Alumni of the Year in 2013. Jere, a graduate from the Degree Programme in Security Management, now works as a security advisor in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In his capacity as regional security manager he is also responsible for security in Finnish embassies in North Africa, Middle East and South Asia (including Afghanistan). Jere has set up Turva-XX, a security expert forum intended for Laurea’s security management students and alumni.

In Jere’s own view, as a result of his studies at Laurea, he now takes a more in-depth and constructive approach to the sector and looks at the security sector from a broader perspective. The friendships established during his studies are also very important for Jere.

Riina Rupponen.

Riina Rupponen (2014)

Riina Rupponen was Laurea’s Alumni of the Year in 2014. Riina graduated from the Degree Programme in Business Management in 2008 and now works in Muuvgo Oy, a company that she owns and runs. She has also established Laurea ES (Laurea Entrepreneurship Society) and has been hosted by many education institutions as a visiting lecturer.

In Riina’s view, the best thing about studying at Laurea was that you can determine your own learning and study in projects. This means that the study schedule is not excessively rigid and that you are also allowed to think outside the box. Riina thinks that alumni activities are a major resource and that they should be developed.

Simo Ekman.

Simo Ekman (2015)

Simo Ekman, a graduate from the Master’s Programme in Crisis and Special Situation Management, was selected by Laurea as its Alumni of the Year in 2015. He works as a paramedic at the Rescue Department of Central Uusimaa and has been actively engaged in the development of working life and training in the sector. Simo was also named Finland's Paramedic of the Year for 2014.

In Ekman’s view, discussions on study subjects, a good team spirit in his group and flexible scheduling of the studies were the best things about studying at Laurea.

Marjo Rantanen.

Marjo Rantanen (2016)

Marjo Rantanen was selected by Laurea as its Alumni of the Year in 2016. Marjo graduated from the Degree Programme in Business Administration in 2014.Marjo is an experience coach and she works for Finland’s slot machine association RAY. She is also a professional speaker and one of the top-100 speakers for Speakersforum. In the year 2016 Marjo published her first book via publisher Talentum called “Tunnelmamuotoilu”, which translates to design by feeling. The book focuses on leadership in experiences and well-being.

Marjo is an active guest lecturer in Laurea and she is very proud of her former school. She feels the best thing in Laurea was that studying was closely involved with real working life. That gave her great benefits in building a career during her studies.

Miia Keurulainen.

Miia Keurulainen (2017)

Miia Keurulainen, née Haanpää, was selected as Laurea’s Alumni of the Year in 2017. She is a Bachelor of Humanities (Master’s degree) and she graduated as a Bachelor of Social services from Laurea in 2006. Miia has built a great career in organization work, which she got interested in with the help of student union Laureamko while studying. Currently Miia works in Tehy - The Union of Health and Social Care Professionals in Finland. She works there as an organization expert, who develops all kinds of versatile organization systems.

Miia is one of the founders of the Laurea Alumni Ry, which started up alumni activities in Laurea. She is still involved in alumni activities after graduating as a guest lecturer and as a member of board in Alumni Delegation. Miia thinks the best thing in her studies was that she got up-to-date tips from people in her line of work, which helped her to find her own path.

Kwame Afreh.

Kwame Afreh​ (2018)

Kwame Afreh, Bachelor of Business Information Technology has been selected as the winner of the Laurea University of Applied Sciences Alumnus of the Year 2018 prize. Afreh graduated from the Degree Programme in Business Information Technology in 2013. Afreh started his studies at Laurea Leppävaara campus in 2009, among the first group of students studying the Degree Programme in Business Information Technology in English. He currently works as a product manager at the Finnish company Webropol.

After his graduation Kwame has for example been a mentor for current students and visited Laurea study units on many occasions as a guest lecturer. He has also participated in the Career and Recruitment Day events organized at Laurea mainly to speak to the students about his studies at Laurea and working life. In Kwame’s opinion best thing about Laurea was the learning by developing model, it has had a great value for him after graduation.


Suvi Kunnari (2019)

Kunnari graduated in 2016 and currently works as Marketing Director at Flow Cosmetics. She has played a pivotal role in expanding the company from a small family company into one of the most significant manufacturers of natural cosmetics in Finland. Since her graduation, Kunnari has been working in close cooperation with Laurea, offering students in the Bachelor of Beauty and Cosmetics programme thesis topics as well as work placement opportunities in her company. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at different campuses. Kunnari is described as an inspiring role model for students in the Master’s degree programme as well, and she has given talks to them about her growth company and her own experiences in the management of a cosmetics company.

Outi Leminen

Outi Leminen (2020)

Laurea's Alumni of the Year 2020 is Outi Leminen. Outi graduated from Laurea in 2013 as a Public Health Nurse. She has also completed a master’s degree in nursing. Outi has a long career as a nurse and currently she works at the cardiology unit at HUS Haartman Hospital. Outi has continuously developed her own expertise and she has a dream to work as a nursing lecturer in the future.

Outi has been actively involved in the development of alumni activities in Laurea right from graduation. Outi is a regular visiting lecturer in Laurea’s courses. Outi is proud of her roots in Laurea and one of the best memories from Laurea is the nice and warm atmosphere.


Amina Mohamed (2021)

Amina Mohamed graduated as Bachelor of Social Services from Laurea's Tikkurila campus in 2012, and after a few years of work experience, Amina also completed a Master's degree in Social Services in 2019. After completing her Master's degree, Amina started a company named Qj-Diasporassa, which promotes diversity and differences and highlights the benefits of diversity to organisations. Amina held lectures for other students already during her studies and encourages students to challenge themselves and their own thinking.

Her cooperation with Laurea has continued after her studies, and Amina has visited different study units as a lecturer. The cooperation has given Amina the ability to train and encounter students and to support future social service sector professionals.  For Amina, being a member of the Laurea community means, first and foremost, a sense of community spirit that she has experienced both during her studies and after graduation.

Minna Koskelo Minna Koskelo (2022)

Minna Koskelo graduated from Laurea University of Applied Sciences, first as a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1999, and later from the Service Innovation and Design Master's program in 2013. Minna Koskelo is an expert in future design.

In 2017, Minna Koskelo founded her own company, 11Helsinki Oy. She has also published a book in 2021 titled "Tehtävänä tulevaisuus – tulevaisuusmuotoilu päätöksenteossa". Koskelo has established Futures Finland Association to promote future thinking, and she is also a founding member of the nationally recognized Future Day event, which received the Ennokointiteko award in 2019. In addition, she serves as a speaker and lecturer, and teaches future design to Master's students at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.